They rise up from the ground like giant daisies. The wind turbines dotting the landscape of Tipton County, Ind., are either ugly behemoths or marvels of new technology. The definition is in the eye of the beholder.
After a visit to the recently constructed wind farm in Tipton County, I made the following observations.
The turbines generate a low level dissonance that could be annoying to persons with extraordinary hearing capabilities.
The monstrous windmills are objectionable to me visually.
The ONLY beneficiaries of the proposed wind farms in Etowah and Cherokee counties will be landowners who sell rights to their property to Pioneer Green Energy.
While benefitting the few, residents living on the periphery of the wind farms will have monstrous windmills without enjoying any financial reward. The existence of the giant turbines has a negative effect on surrounding property values. Small property tax reductions resulting from taxes paid by Pioneer Green Energy will be negated several times by reduced property values.
Several unanswered questions are troubling and should be addressed by wind farm advocates. For instance, what happens when American taxpayer-funded wind farm subsidies are no longer part of the equation?
When wind power generation is no longer purchased by the traditional power suppliers, what happens?
Are future taxes based on certain levels of wind power generation? In other words, what will be covered in signed agreements with affected residents?
After the useful life of a windmill, 20 to 30 years, depending on who you are talking to, who is responsible for replacement or dismantlement of wind turbines?
What safeguards have been negotiated for landowners and surrounding citizenry to prevent the wind farm owners from walking away from a project that fails to meet financial expectations?
Is Pioneer Green Energy foreign owned? If foreign owned, redress of grievances is more difficult.
Has anyone reviewed a projected profit and loss statement for Pioneer Green Energy? How dependent is the company on federal subsidies? Has anyone seen a P&L without federal subsidies?
In excellent coverage of the wind turbine issue by John Davidson, Gadsden Times staff writer, he quoted a resident of Centre who said she liked the project because of possible savings on electricity. Unfortunately, she is wrong. There are no savings to the ultimate users of electricity through wind generation.
American tax dollars are necessary to make investments by wind farm companies viable. Here is a comparison of subsidies (tax payer dollars) for all sources of electrical power for year 2010:
• Gas and oil – $654 million or $0.64 per megawatt hour
• Hydropower – $215 million or $0.82 per megawatt hour
• Coal – $1,189 million or $0.64 per megawatt hour
• Nuclear – $2,499 million or $3.14 per megawatt hour
• Solar – $968 million or $775.64 per megawatt hour
• Wind – $4,986 million or $56.29 per megawatt hour
As evidenced by the data, wind and solar cost to the American consumer are exponentially higher than all other sources of energy. “Wind is free” is a misunderstanding of most Americans.
In addition to requiring federal subsidies to survive, wind and solar companies are net drains on the U.S. Treasury.
Coal, oil and gas paid $10 billion in taxes in 2009, while wind was draining billions from the treasury.
If federal subsidies were eliminated, the American public would decide what energy sources they preferred and eliminate marginal operations. Wind would be the first to go.
At the beginning of every Rotary International meeting around the world, four questions are asked.
One of those questions is: “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” This is the only question county officials should consider when making a decision to allow construction of the giant wind turbines.
John F. Floyd is a Gadsden native who graduated from Gadsden High School in 1954. He formerly was director of United Kingdom manufacturing, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., vice president of manufacturing and international operations, General Tire & Rubber Co., and director of manufacturing, Chrysler Corp.
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